Today in Texas History – March 7

From the Annals of the Wildflowers –  In 1901,  Texas legislature proclaimed the “bluebonnet” as the state flower.  Although consideration was given to the cotton boll and varieties of cactus flower, the choice of the National Society of Colonial Dames of America in Texas prevailed.  That was the Lupinus subcarnosus (“also known as buffalo clover or bluebonnet” as stated in the resolution) and the bluebonnet became the state flower without any recorded opposition.

But that is not the end of the story.  Lupinus subcarnosus is a small variety of the Lupine family which largely inhabits areas of coastal and south Texas.   Some wildflower enthusiasts believed that the LS was the least attractive of the Texas bluebonnets. Thus, began a push for Lupinus texensis, a hardier and showier blue beauty which covers most of Texas to take up the mantle as the official state flower.

For 70 years, the Legislature was encouraged to correct its oversight.  In order to avoid any wildflower controversy or offend patrons of the Lupinus subcarnosus,  the wise representatives of the people declared that both LS and LT as well as “any other variety of bluebonnet not heretofore recorded”, would now be the one and true state flower.

Well surprise, there are at least three other species of Lupines and the Legislature made all of them the state flower as well.  If new species are discovered, they also will automatically be the Texas State Flower.

As it stands now, the five state flowers of Texas are:

  1. Lupinus subcarnosus, the original which grows naturally in deep sandy loams from Leon County southwest to LaSalle County and down to the northern part of Hidalgo County in the Valley.
  2. Lupinus texensis, the most widely known and easiest of all the species to grow.
  3. Lupinus Havardii, also known as the Big Bend or Chisos Bluebonnet, is the most majestic of the Texas bluebonnet tribe with flowering spikes up to three feet.
  4. Lupinus concinnus,  a small Lupine known as  the Annual Bluebonnet grows from 2 to 7 inches tall and has flowers which combine elements of white, rosy purple and lavender.  It is uncommon in the Trans-Pecos region.
  5. Lupinus plattensis,  also known as the Dune Bluebonnet, the Plains Bluebonnet and heretically the Nebraska Lupine, grows to about 2 feet tall and is the only perennial species in the state, It is found mostly on sand hills in the Panhandle.

Photo of Lupinus Havardii from texasflashdude

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